AFRICA-MADAGASCARReaching out to another diocese
For the first
time since its inception, the Oblate Youth Outreach (OYO), took place in the Livingstone
Diocese from 8 to 12 December, 2012, at St. Joseph’s Parish in Mukuni. As
Oblates in the Zambia Delegation, we are now serving and ministering in
Shangombo district under the leadership of Bishop Raymond Mpezele, in the
diocese of Livingstone.
In the past years, the OYO was always conducted in the diocese of Mongu and at Mary Immaculate parish in the Archdiocese of Lusaka. At that time, the OYO programme focused on Oblate parishes until 2007 when we saw an opportunity for evangelization that extended to include other parishes in the diocese. From that time onwards, this has been the ideal for our Oblate Youth Outreach in our commitment to youth ministry and bringing young people to Christ.
The 2012 OYO was conducted by five Oblate scholastic brothers under the guidance of Fr. Chibwe TEMBO, who is the co-coordinator of youth ministry in the Zambia Delegation. The gathering hosted over seventy-five participants from five different parishes within the diocese.
The theme for this year was: “Youth deepening your faith in Christ”. The theme is in line with the year 2012-2013 Roman Catholic Church theme declared by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, as a year of faith.
The OYO theme was subdivided into different topics such as: “Planted and Rooted in Jesus Christ;” “Self-awareness, Christian Faith and Culture;” “the call of God goes beyond our Personalities;” and “Justice and Peace /Reconciliation.” The OYO programme included prayers, talks, reflections entertainment and sports.
The Zambia Delegation Superior, Fr. Freeborn KIBOMBWE, celebrated Mass on the second last day of the OYO. Bishop Mpezele closed the 2012 OYO with the celebration of the Eucharist.
It was successful programme in the midst of challenges such as alcohol, poverty, unemployment, HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies which are prevalent among the youth. Other challenges we observed are high rates of domestic violence, broken families and brutality in families. Above these challenges, we observed that there is need to create awareness of reconciliation.
On one of the days’ programme, we invited different religious congregations to speak to the youth on the values of religious, married and single life. However, it was saddening to hear the negative aspect some of the youth had towards religious life. In one of the groups, I was shocked when one female youth questioned whether or not religious life offers hope at all. This may sound unreasonable to some of us, but I believe there are many young people who express similar sentiments. On the other hand, I believe this arises from the fact that we are confronted with many challenges and sufferings caused by acts of selfishness. As Christians and as people of God, called to the mission of evangelization and vocation animation, we need to take into account the need for reconciliation so as to stand by the youth.
In order for the Church to be a sign of hope to these many challenges, the young people are facing, we need to emphasize the need for reconciliation and justice, especially for the poorest and the vulnerable. In my opinion, reconciliation should always remain a point of reference in evangelizing youth. I hope and believe as religious people, we will find an effective means to bring healing for many young people who are undergoing difficult times. (By Sch. Bro. Cornhill Nahonge MWALA)